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Inaugural USEF Information Technology Summit Hosts Breed and Discipline Technology Leaders


Lexington, KY — It was a bit of history being made as the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) hosted the first of what is hoped to be annual I.T. summits at the Federation’s headquarters at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington on March 29. The summit—designed to bring together the I.T. departments from the various breeds and disciplines to discuss common interests and concerns—proved to be a useful and enlightening event for the more than 30 people representing over 20 equine professional organizations that were in attendance.


The day-long meeting included a packed agenda ranging from the challenges faced by I.T. departments, projects in which various groups are working together, an outline of the Federation’s own I.T. projects and developments and a tour of the USEF operations. The forum not only provided an opportunity to share information and ideas, it fostered a sense of community and opened a door for possible new partnering opportunities.


“Change will happen whether we get involved with it or not,” said USEF Chief Executive Officer John Long who opened the summit. “We need to get involved to make things better for our members. Today, I hope, is a bit of technology history in the making.”


After each of attendees introduced themselves, they identified their expectations from the summit and got to work discussing many areas of that are relevant and shared among their respective I.T. functions and departments. Attendants came from across the country and represented a wide spectrum of breeds and disciplines under the USEF umbrella, and even those outside it.


One area that was discussed was the fact that many information gathering processes done by the various groups is duplicate work. Several of the attendees suggested that, perhaps, a centralized group or I.T. service company could serve as a “one stop” place for data gathering in a variety of areas.


Another comment related to the gathering of data was introduced by Billy Smith, AQHA Executive Director of Information Technology. He said there was a need for the groups to differentiate what kinds of data is wanted and what amount of that data is actually used, keeping in mind that there are costs associated with data collection and storage.


Mark Haupt, a member of the Saddlebred community in South Africa who is president of, reminded everyone of the value of the data each was gathering and storing. “The data we have should be looked at as an asset,” said Haupt. “We should be making it work for us—not necessarily in the form of cash—but it should be put to use.”


Three main challenges facing the group were identified as: horse identification, horse performance tracking and “legacy” systems integration and updates. There were widespread comments and an open discussion where everyone was given the opportunity to share in their own unique concerns and learn from others’ experiences.


Joint projects were another of the broad topics addressed and this area included: competition software; data sharing/validation; competition results; joint memberships; breed databases for sport horses and disciplines; and increasing communication to memberships.


One tangible advancement made from the cooperation of I.T. departments was highlighted—the 2007 membership card. In a historic agreement between the USEF, the United States Dressage Federation (USDF) and the United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA), members of those groups can now share in one online membership card, foregoing the need to carry multiple cards to shows, thereby reducing duplication and better servicing the needs of those showing in dressage and hunter/jumper competitions.


Before dispersing, the group was urged into a “call to action” and to identify an area or idea on which they all would agree and combine their efforts to bring into reality.


“This group established an agenda for the development of data integration standards to enable all equine-related organizations across the globe to easily, securely and reliably share information,” said Justin Provost, USEF Director of I.T. “These standards represent a huge step forward and will help to break down barriers and provide greater value to all equine-related organizations and their members.” The standards will be in the form of XML schemas to define various entities within the equestrian industry. By utilizing these standards, all organizations will be able to securely share the information they choose to make available. It represents the first step in being able to open up numerous possibilities as to how equine-related information can be accessible throughout the world.


Provost’s desire to gather together the heads of so many I.T. departments succeeded in creating a dialogue that will hopefully bring about even more conversations—all of them leading to advancements and more productive outcomes for everyone.


Among those in attendance at the summit was a selection of I.T. movers-and-shakers, including: AQHA Executive Director/Information Technology Dr. Billy Smith; AHA Senior Director of I.T. Bob Huff; USDF I.T. Director Chad Compton; NRHA Director of I.T. Dennis York; ASPC I.T. Representative Dr. Mark Haupt; AHHS Executive Director Frances Bjalobok; AHA Executive Vice President Gary Zimmerman; USEA Director of Information Technology Jason Caldwell; USEA CEO Jo Whitehouse; USEA Manager of Web Development Robert winter; IALHA Executive Director Martina Philpott; IALHA IT/Database Administrator Prajwal Raj Joshi; USPC I.T. Staff Robert Snapp; USHJA Director of Programs & Education Melanie Fransen; USHJA Director of Marketing & Communications Whitney Allen; USHJA Executive Director Susan Dotson; WPCSA Director Sally Steinmetz; ADS Executive Director Susan Koos Acker; ASPC Director of Operations Zona Schneider; J.P. Giacomini representing IFHSA; USEF Treasurer Kathy Meyer; as well as members of the USEF I.T. department.

For more information or questions regarding the first USEF I.T. Summit, please contact Justin Provost, USEF Director of I.T. at or (859) 225-6905.

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